World Wide Cycling

                 Bolivia 2000



Marco Polo Cycling Club

The Claro Vredestein-Gazelle Team, from the Netherlands, will participate in the "VI Doble Copacabana De Ciclismo - 2000", a 4-day stagerace in Bolivia. This race will be held at an average altitude of 4000 meter (12,000 feet) and is the highest cycling race in the world. It will take place from November 9 to 12. The team will fly to Bolivia on Sunday Oktober 30 to adapt to the circumstances. We wil try to have reports with the adventures and results from Bolivia on our internet site.  

If you are interested to travel over the world yourself to participate in an event, Click here to see how. 

The Claro - Vredestein - Gazelle Team on the cycling track "Alto Irpavi" in La Paz, from left to right; Frank van Dulmen, mechanic Maarten Ruesink, Renger Ypenburg, team manager Edwin Achterberg, Pete Swenson and Remko Kramer.

Preview: The Following riders will be on the Claro Vredestein-Gazelle Team for the VI Doble Copacabana - GP Fides 2000:

Renger Ypenburg: 1999: 1st in stage Islamabad-Lahore Cycle Race (Pakistan) 5th Olympia’s Tour of Netherlands, 6th National Championships Time Trial 

2000: Dutch Champion Team Time Trial, 1st Nordhorn (Germany), 2nd G.C. Ster der Beloften and points jersey, 3rd Lloret de Mar (Spain)


Remko Kramer: 1st Santa Cruz hill Climb Classic (USA), 1st Ensenade (Mexico) 

2000: 2nd Brisbane (Australie), 4th Sacramento (USA), 5th stage in Barkly Challenge Mount Isa (Australia), 6th L.A. Circuit Race (USA)


Frank van Dulmen: 1997: 3e National Championships Juniors

2000: 4th Ardense Pijl (World Cup under 23’s, Belgium), 5th G.P.Ritter (U.C.I. 1.5, Germany), 8th G.C. Thüringen Rundfahrt (World Cup under 23’s, Belgium), 10th Groningen-Münster (U.C.I. 1.4)


Pete Swenson (USA): 10th Grundig World Cup MTB finals Vail, CO (’96) 1999: 10th ranked overall NORBA National MTB Pro, 3rd NORBA National MTB Mammoth Mt. CA.

2000:  5th Zinger Classic Boulder to Breckenridge RR, CO. , 7th NORBA National MTB Deer Valley, UT. , 5th Iron Horse MTB Durango, CO

Edwin Achterberg will be the Team Manager as well as Soigneur. He is Exercise Physiologist and studies Medicine. He is a very experienced Team Manager and Soigneur.  


Maarten Ruesink, usually Mechanic in the Batavus Professional Cycling Team, this time he will work for this team. 


Program of the VI Doble Copacabana De Ciclismo - 2000:


November 9: Prologue: La Paz  6,6 KM (maximum altitude 3380 meters)


November 10: Stage 1: La Paz – Viacha 37 KM (maximum altitude 4090 meters)


November 11: Stage 2A: Rio Seco - Tiquina 90,7 KM (maximum altitude 4010 meters)


                         Stage 2B: San Pedro de Tequina - Copacabana 38 KM (maximum altitude 4200 meters)


November 12: Stage 3: Copacabana - San Pedro de Tiquina 38 KM (maximum altitude 4200 meters)


Stage 4: Tiquina – La Paz 122 KM (maximum altitude 4100 meters)


A map from the Tour Book with the location of the stages


Reports from Bolivia:

Monday October 30

After a journey from over 24 hours, with stops in Munich, Sao Paolo and Santa Cruz, we have arrived in La Paz. Landing in La Paz is spectacular, because the plane hits the ground with a speed that's two times higher than in a landing on sea level! We were welcomed warmly and brought to the cars directly. A pick up for the bikes, a van for passengers and a ambulance for luggage. We were being interviewed on the spot and could hear our own voice on the radios in the cars. After the interview we were brought to our hotel, the ambulance leaded the way with sirens on! La Paz is in a 'valley' with a breathtaking view on the surrounding mountains, some of them with snow (max. 6500 meters). We feel good, considering the circumstances (height!), just a little light in our heads and we breath faster and deeper. Today we just touch our bikes to put them together, tomorrow we will just train very easy for one hour. Intensity will be very low, our bodies need all of their energy to accommodate to the height. Pete Swenson will arrive tomorrow, he will have less problems with the altitude, he lives and trains in the mountains and has stayed in pretty high places a couple of times this year already.

Team manager Edwin is being interviewt by the Bolivian TV. (Photo: Remko Kramer)

Tuesday October 31

Pete 'high altitude animal' Swenson arrived this morning. He had a good flight and went training with us after breakfast. We trained very easy through the city. The heavy traffic makes it hard to ride. Cars are not used to cyclists and leave no space, they drive mirror to mirror and even at the traffic lights you cannot pass them... The organization will take us to the Altiplano (highlands) by car, so that we can train there, that's also better because there are less hills on the Altiplano and every little hill kills us, although we take it very easy... We went to the Dutch Embassy for a visit and had a cup of coffee with the Ambassador. In the afternoon we visited different markets, our translator gave us a good tour and explained everything about the different products and animals that were being traded. We also tried clothes on in a sports shop. Our Bolivian sponsor, Claro waterpurification has clothes made for the team.

Wednesday November 1

We went to the Altiplano with a taxi, and started training there. The Altiplano is a plain, empty landscape without any vegetation and the snowy (6000 meters) mountains on the horizon. 

A flat tire on the Altiplano, in the background the snowcaps of over 6000 meters altitude (18.000 feet). (Photo: Edwin Achterberg)

There's a nice sun, which makes it good to ride, we have to put on a lot of sunscreen, not to get burnt. We went to Tiahuanaco by bike, the ruins of a civilization from before the Inca's. Some temples and a pyramid, built out of granite rocks. How they could shape them like this is a big mystery. Our translator knows a lot and showed us around perfectly.

Thursday November 2

Cycling is okay, but we cannot breathe, every little hill hits hard on this altitude!! Hopefully this will be better, next week. We saw the course of the prologue today. The start goes up for 500 meters straight away and the last kilometre isn't flat either. After checking out the course, we went to the Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon), a landscape like the moon, with some cactuses, very special! Temperature is around 25 Centigrade, we're having a good time, but we need more oxygen!!

Down-hill Valle de La Luna, in front Frank, then Renger Edwin en Pete. (Photo: Remko Kramer)

Friday November 3

With two riders we went to the medical institute for altitude research. Here we, Renger and I did an exercise test on the ergometer. It was extremely hard to breath through a tube on this altitude.

Remko is being tested in the Instituto Biologico Altitudo La Paz. (Photo Edwin Achterberg)

In the afternoon we checked the first stage, Pete could not take part in the training because his stomach is upset. The first part of the stage is very hard, from the start it goes up for 13 kilometres, through La Paz over the old Autopista all the way to the Altiplano. From there it is flat until the finish in Viacha. We tried to take it easy, but that is impossible on the climb, we suffer anyway, but the view on the city is great!

Sunday November 5

Yesterday and today we went training on the Altiplano. We feel a lot better, except Pete who is still sick. But we are immediately out of breath if we do more intense workouts.

At a table in the restaurant from Hotel Gloria with a view on La Paz.

A French TV-team from the Channel "Arte" arrived, they will make a documentaire about this race. it will be broadcasted in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Tonight there was a celebration mass in the church especially for the cyclists. Padre Eduardo Perez Iribarne, the head organizer of the race is a priest and read the mass.

Monday November 6

We trained the second stage, this one goes from La Paz to Tiquina, which lies at the border of the Titicaca Lake, there they will stop the time. With a boat we will be transported to a half-isle, where we will go on to Copacabana. The time of both half stages will count as second stage. On the way back we will go the same way, then it will be split into two stages.
The first 80 kilometers of the second stage is fairly flat, however the first finish in Tiquina is a mountain of about 7 kilometers. On the way to Copacabana it is very hard; only going up and descent to Copacabana. It is not so steep but because it is above 4000 meters we will have to suffer a lot.
Pete rode along for a litle part but he felt sick again afterwards. Today he didn’t ride at all.

Tuesday November 7

The last days before the race everybody has his own program to prepare for the race. Renger wanted to train some more climbing and he trained to La Cumbre a mountain pass at 4620 meters altitude. There was snow and a lot of Lamas.

Together with the


Frank and Remko went to the Velodromo Alto Irpavi (cycling-track), there they spinned their legs. This cycling-track is the world´s highest (3417 meters altitude), in the 80´s several world records have been broken here.

Wednesday November 8

Today the whole team took it easy, we all went to the cycling-track. Some guys did some sprint work-outs and spinned our legs loose.

Training on the cycling track "Alto Irpavi" in La Paz with a beautiful view on the surrounding mountains. (Photo: Remko Kramer)

Tomorrow the race starts with the prologue. There is more and more press, sometimes it is hard to get into the hotel because of the journalists, photographers and TV-teams.
The favourites for this race are the Colombians, they won this race the last three years. Also the Italian national team must be strong of course, then there is a French team of which three guys will be in Trade Team 1´s next year. Several South-American national team’s (Peru, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico) and don’t forget the Bolivian teams. And of course the
Claro-Vredestein-Gazelle team hopes to compete for the prices as well.

Thursday November 9

The prologue of 6,6 kilometre was a very hard start of the Doble Copacabana. It was won by a Colombian in 9:01. Renger who was the best of the Claro-Vredestein-Gazelle team lost 43 seconds and got 17th. He had the same time as the best French rider and beat the best Italian by 2 seconds. But still 15 riders from Colombia, Bolivia, Peru etc. beat him! The rest of the
team lost even more time. After the finish everybody was not able to speak for about 5 minutes, because of the breathing, and all tasted blood in the throat.

Prologue La Paz 6,6 kilometer

1. Jairo Perez (Col) 9:01
Ismael Sarmiento (Col) 0:01
3. Cid Martinez (Bol) 0:09

17. Renger Ypenburg 0:43

35. Frank van Dulmen 0:58

41. Pete Swenson 1:09

65. Remko Kramer 1:56

Friday November 10

Today was the first stage from the Doble Copacabana; La Paz to Viacha. Only 38 kilometers but the first 13 going uphill. At the start there were already a lot of spectators, many asked for autographs and wanted with us on a picture. On the rest of the circuit it was incredible how many people were watching. According to an estimation there were about 150.000 spectators.

Spectators come to ask for a autograph(Photo: Edwin Achterberg)

The Colombians attacked from the gun, with a sprint uphill. The peloton shattered immediatly and Remko got dropped after 1 kilometer. From the first group (without Europeans) two Colombians attacked halfway the mountain. A third Colombian won the sprint from the chase-group and completed the podium.
Pete and Renger could keep up with the third group and lost about 3 minutes. Frank just made the time limit, but Remko was 4 minutes too late and has to leave the race.

1st stage La Paz - Viacha, 37 km

Graciano Fonseca (Col) 55:23
2. Ismael Sarmiento (Col) z.t.
Jairo Perez (Col) 0:51


32. Pete Swenson 3:01

35. Renger Ypenburg z.t.

66. Frank van Dulmen 8:26

Saturday November 11

In the fist part of the second stage there was a group leading untill Tiquina. In the second part with the hard climb to Copacabana, the Bolivian Genaro Agosto, could stay in the front and won this stage. Pete Swenson was very strong on the climb, he finished in the first group and got 8th in this stage.

Before the start of the second stage; Rio Seco - San Pedro de Tiquina - Copacabana. (Photo: Remko Kramer)

2nd stage La Paz – Copacabana 128,7 kilometer

Genaro Agostopa (Bol) 3:12:35
2. Jairo Perez (Col) 0:14
3. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) 0:14

8. Pete Swenson 0:26

56. Frank van Dulmen 9:36

62. Renger Ypenburg 12:55

Sunday November 12

The third stage, the same hard climb but now the other way around, was another Bolivian success. On the climb, the Colombians made the race tough and the peloton shattered. The young Bolivian Cid Martinez won the stage. Pete Swenson who was in the second group got 15th.

3rd stage Copacabana – San Pedro de Tiquina 38 kilometer

1. Cid Martinez (Bol) 0:57:09
2. Jairo Perez (Col) z.t.
Aldrin Salamanca (Ven) 0:04


15. Pete Swenson 2:26

48. Renger Ypenburg 6:24

66. Frank van Dulmen 17:36

In the fourth stage that was going up for 5 kilometres from the start, only 30 man came together after the climb. Frank could not catch on anymore. In the flat part the group got smaller because of the cross winds. Pete and Renger, who had set this stage in his mind, were good in the front. With the sprint going a little uphill, it was a perfect finish for Renger. Too bad he had a flat tire with just one kilometre to go and he ended up 27th. Pete who is not such a good sprinter got 14th.

The Down-hill to the finish in (Photo: Remko Kramer)

4th stage Tiquina – La Paz 122 kilometer

Jairo Perez (Col) 2:36:37
Cid Martinez (Bol) z.t.
3. Victor Garrido (Chi) 0 :03

Pete Swenson z.t.

27. Renger Ypenburg 1:51

59. Frank van Dulemen 19:09

In the final classification, the best rider from Claro-Vredestein-Gazelle was Pete Swenson with a 14th place. With this result he was the second rider out of South-America. Only the Italian Salvator Scarmadella, 12th, was a little better.

Final Classification

1. Ismael Sarmiento (Col)
2. Jairo Perez (Col) 0:16
3. Graciano Fonseca (Col) 0:23

4. Cid Martinez (Bol) 0:48

5. Aldrin Salamanca (Ven) 1:09
6. Genaro Agostopa (Bol) 2:23

7. Arnold Zapata (Bol) 2:35

8. Uriel Chavez (Mex) 3:56

9. Cristian Castro (Per) 4:15

10. Edgardo Lugo (Mex) 5:06

14. Pete Swenson 6:38
41. Renger Ypenburg 24:26
59. Frank van Dulmen 55:18

It was a hard race under extreme circumstances, but a great experience. The country is beautiful, the people are very friendly and the organization from the race did a great job! 



Decending in La Paz. (Photo from the Tour Book)





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